Now let’s get straight on with Part Two, and likely break some Hip Hop hearts in the process.
Jedi Mind Tricks
Jedi Mind Tricks are a greatly esteemed duo within independent music. Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind is rightly considered one of Hip Hop’s most talented producers, and Vinnie Paz is just as well known for his gritty, insightful and thought-provoking lyrics as he is his recognisable delivery. ‘Violent By Design’ released in 2000 is widely considered a masterpiece of production, and their 2006 release ‘Servants In Heaven, Kings In Hell’ is equally acclaimed and revered.
Smif N Wessun
Making up one part of supergroup Boot Camp Clik, Smif N Wessun’s debut ‘Dah Shinin’' released in 1995 is an influential classic. Containing multiple well known tunes, as well as the huge underground hit ‘Bucktown’, the album also marked the official debut of Boot Camp Clik as a supergroup. Though forced to change their name to Cocoa Bruvaz to avoid being sued by firearms company Smith & Wesson, the duo would unofficially revert back to Smif N Wessun with the release of their third album, this time the name stuck and is now synonymous with respected Hip Hop.
Active since 1992, M.O.P., short for Mash Out Posse, remained heavily underground until the release of their fourth album ‘Warriorz’ in 2000 exploded in popularity and gave the world two huge hits in ‘Ante Up’ and ‘Cold As Ice’. MCs Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame have become well known for their rugged beats and uniquely aggressive delivery, a style which they essentially pioneered alongside the likes of group Onyx.
People Under The Stairs
People Under The Stairs have never tried to be more than what they are, straight up Hip Hop. Though strictly underground, in terms of record sales, the duo are well known and respected among Hip Hop artists and fans alike, thanks largely to regularly touring the world out of love for their craft. Their music is pure head-nod music, their beats are soulful and varied, and their rhymes are generally upbeat, and based around personal experiences and enjoyment of life.
Outkast are a well known name inside and outside Hip Hop music, that’s because the duo is one of the most successful of all time, with multiple awards between six albums and huge worldwide sales. Composed of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the duo helped popularise South Coast Hip Hop, otherwise known as ‘Dirty South’, in the early-90s, with their music incorporating a varied style of musical influence including soul, funk, jazz, techno and gospel, giving them widespread appeal.
Before their solo careers took off, Mos Def and Talib Kweli came together to create a key recording which led to the dominance of Independent label Rawkus Records at the time. Released in 1998, ‘Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star’ is revered for its meaningful, intelligent, socially aware lyrics, and incredibly well crafted beats. Making an immediate impact, the album is now widely recognised as one of the most acclaimed in Hip Hop music, cementing both Mos Def and Talib Kweli as deeply respected masters of the verse.
Choice Tracks – Every Track On The Album.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth are a Golden Era duo whose 1992 debut ‘Mecca And The Soul Brother’ and 1994 follow-up ‘The Main ingredient’ are considered influential and acclaimed works, not least thanks to Pete Rock’s inspired production. Their single ‘They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)’ is not only the duo’s biggest hit but is one of the most highly regarded and well respected tunes in Hip Hop.
Run The Jewels
Consisting of MC/producer El-P and MC Killer Mike, Run The Jewels made an immediate impact on the Hip Hop scene with the release of the self-titled ‘Run The Jewels’ album in 2013 receiving universal acclaim. The duo’s lyrical style fits perfectly over El-P’s bass-filled, electronic-leaning production. Releasing a successful follow-up last year, and a third album already in the works, Run The Jewels are going places fast and could well be looked upon as pioneers of something truly unique in a scene some might argue is growing stale.
Eyedea & Abilities
Eyedea is widely regarded as the best freestyle/battle MC to ever hold a mic, winning multiple high-profile tournaments. However, when Eyedea started recording with DJ Abilities, his content wasn’t just clever punchlines and put-downs, it was also some of the most philosophical, poetic and socially-conscious verses put on record. The three albums the duo created are highly acclaimed works, with DJ Abilities’ trademark experimental production the perfect frame for Eyedea’s now legendary wordplay and story-telling ability.
Black Sheep’s debut ‘A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ released in 1991 garnered them immediate recognition in the Hip Hop community, the duo’s intelligent, witty, satirical and imaginative lyricism blends perfectly over their infectious and recognisable beats. Since then Black Sheep have become influential and respected members of the Hip Hop world, with lyrics and beats regularly sampled and given homage by other artists. Their debut is rightly considered a must have album.
Well that’s it. 20 Hip Hop duos done. Pretty varied list if I say so myself.
As it’s Friday, here’s an extra duo. Not so much a great duo but a duo whose debut album remains a personal favourite…
The High & Mighty
Consisting of MC Mr Eon and Producer DJ Mighty Mi, The High & Mighty made an instant name for themselves with the release of their classic album ‘Home Field Advantage’ in 1999. The recording is notable for featuring multiple now legendary artists in the early stages of their careers, with names like Eminem, Cage, Mos Def and Evidence, alongside established legends like Mad Skillz, Pharoahe Monch and Kool Keith, among others. Thanks to Mighty Mi's inspired and, at times, brilliant production, the album is filled with timeless, unforgettable tunes, and remains a fitting end to the 90s and perhaps Hip Hop's finest decade.